FoodThink study reveals gap between consumer trust and food-production knowledge

Although consumers increasingly trust food companies and grocers for information about their food, only one-third believe the agricultural and food industries are transparent, according to a new white paper from Sullivan Higdon & Sink FoodThink.

One-third of consumers say they believe the agriculture community and food companies are transparent, according to new research from Sullivan Higdon & Sink FoodThink.

The research is reported in the white paper "Evolving Trust in the Food Industry"which provides food marketers with insights into Americans' knowledge and trust of the food industry, and how those perceptions have changed since 2012.

"Food marketers should know that consumer perceptions of transparency in the food industry are consistently improving but there is plenty of room to grow," said Erika Chance, senior FoodThink researcher. "The good news is that consumers are turning to food companies and grocers for more information because they do have an interest in learning more about the food they eat."

The research shows a consumer desire for more information from specific trustworthy sources:

  • 65 percent think it's important to know how their food is produced.
  • 60 percent think farmers and ranchers are trustworthy, making them one of the most trusted sources for information on food production.
  • Compared with 2012, consumers increasingly trust food companies, bloggers/social media and grocers/food retailers for information about their food.

"Consumers today are very perceptive and have access to more information than ever. Many are taking the initiative to read up on the issues facing food production," Chance said. "It's important for the industry to be proactive in their efforts to help educate the public because they have the power to continue to build that trust."

The research paper is a comparative analysis of consumers' changed food-production perceptions since FoodThink's white papers "Building Trust in What We Eat" and "Emerging Faith in Food Production" were published in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

FoodThink white papers are built on proprietary research conducted in 2016 and utilize the responses from more than 2,000 U.S. consumers of diverse demographic backgrounds.

Download a free copy of the white paper with key implications for food marketers, and follow the blog.

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